Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week I’ll have two featured posts.

One adds a little of my own experience and insight to a great article David Roberts wrote this week about tech nerds and their alternating disdain and naiveté towards politics. His article is “Tech nerds are smart. But they can’t seem to get their heads around politics.” Mine is “Hey, Nerds! Politics is a System. Figure it Out.” Nerds have respect for facts and a way of getting their heads around complex systems — two things the world needs a lot of right now. They just can’t seem to grasp that politics is exactly the kind of system that deserves their hyper-focused attention.

Ben Carson’s critique of Black Lives Matter inspired the second featured article, which I’m calling “Protesting in Your Dreams”. I find it fascinating how the people who aren’t actually protesting anything always think they know best. The Powers That Be love it when the fantasies of people on the sidelines draw public concern away from the protests that are actually happening.

The weekly summary still needs a quote and a name. It covers the Katrina anniversary, this week’s horrifying shooting on live TV, my disgust with the coverage both Sanders and Clinton are getting, and the dangerous vagueness in Trump’s message, before closing with a mistake that will put your various screw-ups in perspective.

The nerds article should be out sometime in the next hour, and the Carson article by 10 EDT. The weekly summary should appear about 11.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I’m just back from a vacation where I got less done than I expected. (I know, “getting something done” contradicts the whole notion of “vacation”, but my inability to sleep late usually allows me to keep the Sift going on trips without inconveniencing my fellow travelers that much. When I cancel a Sift, it’s usually because I have some other deadline.) So today the Sift will run a little later than usual.

The featured article defines “The Do-Something-Else Principle”, which explains why Republican candidates resist turning their rhetoric into detailed policy proposals.

The weekly summary has a lot to cover: the ongoing stock market crash, Jimmy Carter’s response to cancer, my response to the ad you’ve been seeing against the Iran deal, and a variety of 2016 developments, including my general disgust with the way the Democrats are being covered in the media.

Expect the do-something-else article by 11, and the summary by noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Last week I linked to multiple opinions about the Black Lives Matter protesters who disrupted a Bernie Sanders speech. With more time to think and listen, I take a clearer position in this week’s featured post: “Why BLM Protesters Can’t Behave”. It should be out around 8 EDT.

The weekly summary will cover both China stories: the explosion at Tianjin and the devaluation of the yuan. Also: Jeb’s rewriting of the history of the Iraq War (and how it resembles the Right’s Vietnam revisionism), corrections to my post-debate analysis, other 2016 campaign developments, the new embassy in Cuba, a teacher explains why she’s leaving the public schools, more evidence ObamaCare is working, and I’m still looking for a closing.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The big event this week was the Republican debate on Thursday. What impressed me was not any particular candidate’s performance, but how well Fox News stage-managed the event to prevent the kind of clown show liberals tuned in hoping to see. I’ll examine how they did that in “The Artful Puppet Master”, which should be ready to post by around 8 EDT.

That’s not all the debate news, so in the weekly summary I’ll discuss individual candidates and point you to two videos: the Gregory Brothers’ songification of the debate, and a young Mexican-American woman thanking Donald Trump for making the election about immigration.

Other recent events in the summary: Jon Stewart’s farewell to The Daily Show, the Black Lives Matter takeover of a Bernie Sanders rally, and the result of the paranoia about the Jade Helm 15 military exercises. Plus, I’ll discuss two excellent articles about abortion, the teacher exodus from Kansas, and a few other things, before closing with a chase scene. Expect to see that maybe 10 or 11.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week Congress has been discussing the deal to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and rhetoric has been high, both inside the Capitol and on the campaign trail. Mike Huckabee invoked the image of Obama sending Jews “to the oven”. Ted Cruz accused Obama of sponsoring terrorism. And so on.

But the one meme that Republicans keep coming back to is Munich, where British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain conceded part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler in 1938 and announced that he had achieved “peace for our time”.  Chamberlain’s “appeasement” at Munich has become the universal symbol of weak negotiators and people willing to give up too much to avoid war, who just guarantee that war will come on worse terms.

This morning I’m going to take that meme on directly with an article I call “If This Is Munich, We Must Be Germany”. Because Obama’s critics are applying the metaphor backwards: The United States has been the country threatening war if it didn’t get what it wanted, and Iran gave up something to avoid that war. They got nothing of ours.

That should be out fairly soon, maybe 8 or 8:30 EDT.

In the weekly summary we have yet another police killing caught on video, Cecil the Lion and #AllLionsMatter, David Brooks vs. Ta-Nehisi Coates, new numbers from Pew showing the decline of American Christianity, and a Key & Peele video about a world where teachers are treated like sports stars. I’ve got a lot of work to do on that, so it may not show up until nearly noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

As some of you have noticed, the 2016 Stump Speeches series has stalled. The reason is simple: Next up was Hillary Clinton, and that article turned into a bigger project than any of the others.

Here’s why: For most candidates, what needs to get covered is “Who is this person?” and “What is he (or she) saying?” But for Clinton, the problem isn’t that we don’t know enough about her, it’s that we know too much and don’t know how to sort it out. The questions I keep hearing about Hillary amount to: “Who is she really?” and “Can I trust the things she’s saying? How much of it is her heart really in?”

Those are tougher questions, and required more work than just fact-checking a speech. I decided to attack them by reading all her books — well, I skipped the one about the White House pets — plus a couple of others that seemed relevant. I was hoping to find themes that stayed constant through the years. And more than that, I was hoping I could start hearing her author’s voice in my head. I realize that sounds more like channeling than journalistic analysis, but that’s what the questions seemed to require.

The project took some time, but I think it worked. You can judge for yourself later this morning. The article is unusually long, even for me, but it’s got five books and three speeches to cover. And it concerns the candidate who currently has the best chance to wind up as President of the United States. Who is she really?

I’ve still got a lot of editing to do, but I’m hoping to have that out by 9 EDT, or maybe 10. The weekly summary should follow a couple of hours later.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I’m back after my week on Star Island off the coast of New Hampshire. (Give yourself credit if you knew that New Hampshire had  a coast.)

There will be two featured posts this week. The first, “Trump is the New Palin”, makes a bold prediction: Donald Trump will leave the race for president before he has to spend more money than the publicity is worth. I’ll guess that to be sometime in December, when candidates need to buy ads on Boston TV stations to stay competitive in New Hampshire. I expect to post that article soon, probably before 8 EDT.

The second, “So What About Polygamy, Anyway?” picks up on an argument between Fredrik deBoer and Jonathan Rauch. All through the same-sex marriage debate, we kept hearing that we were on a slippery slope and legalized polygamy would be next. Well, is it? Should it be? Along the way I’ll take a look at some slippery-slope predictions of the past, including some that in retrospect look more like the march of progress than a slide to perdition. Expect that by 10.

The weekly summary has two weeks to cover, which includes the Iran deal, the Greek bailout, the Chattanooga shooting, and a bunch of other stuff. (Honestly, I didn’t believe the Iran deal was going to happen.) And I’ll close with a picture of a good prank.

 

The Monday Morning Teaser

What I paid the most attention to this week was the continuing backlash of social conservatives against marriage equality. One moment that stood out for me was when Ted Cruz was asked whether the “religious freedom” to resist same-sex marriage (which he was promoting) also could be used to resist interracial marriage. Outrageously, he replied that there is “no religious backing” for opposition to interracial marriage.

That sent me to the history books, including a fascinating recent one on how interracial marriage became legal, called Almighty God Created the Races by Fay Botham. The parallels in the arguments are quite striking, as Botham herself recognizes in the final chapter.

So why, I wondered, are the Ted Cruzs so resistant to claiming their social-conservative heritage? And why was Justice Alito so concerned that his fellow marriage-equality opponents might be called “bigots”? And I came to understand the reason: Our image of the bigots of the past is that the were all haters, like the mobs being held back by federal troops in Little Rock while they yelled obscenities at the little black children going to school. No wonder Ted Cruz and Sam Alito are offended to be lumped together with them.

But when you look back more thoroughly, you find that the vast majority of segregationists and male chauvinists and even slavery defenders were just like the marriage-equality opponents of today: not conscious of hating anyone, but sincerely believing — usually for reasons rooted in their religion — that certain people shouldn’t be treated fairly, and that everyone will be better off if they remain unequal. In other words, most of the bigots of the past were probably nice folks, if you met them under the right circumstances — a lot like Ted Cruz and Sam Alito.

The result of that history project will be this week’s featured post “You Don’t Have to Hate Anybody to be a Bigot”. It should be out around 9 or 10, EDT.

The weekly summary covers yesterday’s referendum in Greece, which launches me into a reflection on how the we’re-turning-into-Greece line the Tea Party was pushing a few years ago had the economics exactly backwards. There are still more Republican presidential candidates, and pundits are finding new reasons to ignore the huge crowds Bernie Sanders is drawing. Confederate flag defenders came out in force, but I don’t think they did their cause much good. I quote a first-person response to Georgia’s open-carry law, and a couple of great Bill Maher riffs. I’m still looking for a closing. So let’s predict that to appear around noon.

The Actual Monday Morning Teaser

Yesterday, readers got a little more insight into the Sift’s inner workings than I wanted to give them. You see, I want anybody who comes to the blog on a Monday morning to at least get a promise that articles are coming; that’s what the Teaser is for. So I like to get it posted as early as I can. I’m usually a morning person, so I roll out of bed, grab a cup of coffee, walk to the computer and post.

Well, yesterday I woke up later than usual, with one of those strange I-just-woke-up beliefs that it was Monday and I was running late. Forget the coffee, I had to get to the computer and get a Teaser up right now. It was posted before I saw enough of the world to realize it was Sunday.

I could have taken it down then, but one of my policies is that once commenters notice an error, I can fix it, but I can’t pretend it didn’t happen. (The comments often contain my acknowledgement of mistakes I’ve edited out of the text.) Deleting the post would delete the comments that corrected me. So the wrong-day Teaser stays up.

Anyway, I have it on good authority that it really is Monday today. So here’s what you can expect: Unlike what I would have done yesterday, I’m going to pull my Supreme Court analysis out of the summary and make it a separate article “Two and a Half Cheers for the Supreme Court”. It should go up around 8 or 8:30.

Then I’ll post an article on racial and gender slurs that I’ve been thinking about for a while, but waiting for a news hook: The conservative furor over President Obama saying “nigger” in an interview was the hook I was waiting for, so “Slurs: Who Can Say Them, When, and Why” should go up by 10. It begins with a scene I really love from Clerks 2, and concludes with a scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, so I think it does a good job of mixing light and heavy.

Then the weekly summary will cover other people’s reactions to the Court decisions; the amazing crumbling of support not just for the Confederate flag in front of the South Carolina state capitol, but for Confederate symbols all over the country; Obama’s eulogy for the Charleston victims; why you should think twice before forwarding that anti-Hillary tweet; and a few other things before closing with a human/elephant musical jam. Maybe 11 or 11:30 for that.

It really is Monday, isn’t it?

The Monday Morning Teaser

Update: It’s actually Sunday and I’m not running behind at all. Thanks to the commenters for pointing this out before I actually started posting articles.


I’m moving slowly on a rainy morning. The featured post today will be “Slurs: Who Can Say Them, When, and Why”. The conservative freak-out over President Obama saying “Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public” provides an occasion for me to collect some thoughts that should be obvious, but for some reason aren’t to some people. I’ll try to keep it amusing, with relevant clips from Clerks 2 and Life of Brian.

Since I’m getting a late start, it might be 10 before that appears.

There’s an amazing week to cover in the summary: two major Supreme Court decisions; Confederate symbols started coming down — not just in South Carolina, but all over; the TPP is back from the dead; and President Obama’s eulogy for the shooting victims in Charleston might go down as one of the great American speeches. Expect that around noon.

And I’ll close with something celebratory: a video of two actual, non-animated, boogying elephants.

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